Instead, Obama wants to provide government daycare for all preschoolers who live in households where the income is below approximately $47,100. He doesn't call it daycare or babysitting (which is a more accurate term); he calls it early childhood education.
Early childhood education means programs for kids from birth to age 3 (a massively expanded Early Head Start, home visits by nurses, parental education and health services), more of the existing Head Start (mostly for 3-year-olds), more "high-quality preschool" for 4-year-olds available to every child in America and full-day kindergarten for all.
Obama went to College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center near Atlanta to formally unveil his extravagant program. He said, "Let's do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind."
The daycare advocates like to cite as models for success the so-called Perry Preschool Project and the Abecedarian Project. Those two projects took place a half-century ago, using highly trained teachers under optimum conditions; one project studied only 58 3-to 4-year-old children, and the other only 57.
The proclaimed purpose of pre-K education is to close the gap between kids from high-income and low-income households. The defect in Obama's announcement is that there is no evidence that pre-K schooling can or will accomplish that -- it's not a program "that works."
The federal program called Head Start was created in 1965 as part of Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty. It has been running nearly 50 years, now costing $23,000 per student, and incurring a total expense of $150 billion, but it still does not provide promised benefits.
Obama likes to say he is guided by "the science," and he claims that "study after study" shows every dollar of Pre-K "investment" (that's the liberals' synonym for taxes) saves seven dollars later on. Obama's falsehood is easily refuted.
In fact, all studies show that Head Start and all the early interventions do not achieve what they promised, and any benefits "fade out" by the third grade. His own Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did an important Head Start Impact Study tracking the progress of 3- and 4-year-olds from entering Head Start through kindergarten and first grade and then a follow-up study on the students' performance through the end of the third grade.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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